I particularly love to talk about the lessons I learn from my cows on their thoughts and behavior!
Miss 111, our special needs cow, has a beautiful baby girl!   - 8.19.15
     Miss 111 came to us a year-old heifer. She was a loner from the start and missed her mommy. She didn't play well with the other cows and slowly but surely became a problem. She got more and more tense and finally started to lunge - then go after me! She was very aggressive and I got so I would not go near her in the barnyard without a cane or a stick in case she tried to hurt me. I decided she was dangerous and I would not breed her and she would (probably sooner than later) go to the butcher.
     Then I watched the movie TEMPLE GRANDIN (again!) and something Temple says in the movie hit home (Temple Grandin feels her Aspergers Syndrome makes her think like a cow - very visual, very susceptible to stimulation). She said that with Aspergers stimulation HURTS - it is not just irritating, it is actually painful.
     If "Aspies" think like cows - was I over stimulating and HURTING poor 111? She acted different than ALL the other cows and the more I thought about it, she might be staying by herself so she wasn't in on all the stimulation.
     So I started to handle her differently. I never approached her without stopping, being soothing and showing her my intentions. I spoke to her much more softly and never moved fast or spoke loud or before she knew I was there. I never touched her without her knowing I was going to do it and I watched her body language keenly - ANY agitation and I backed off. And slowly, but noticeably I saw her start to relax a little around me - she was starting to trust I would not surprise or over stimulate her. And she stopped being aggressive. She started to let me touch her. She started to eat with the other cows.
     Fast forward a couple years - 111 is a sweetheart. I am still very aware of her "issues" and always let her know where I am so she is not startled. She has friends now and often gets licked by the other cows. But the joy of her life was last year she gave birth - in a driving rainstorm that lasted 2 days - to her bull calf BRUISER. Dear heavens, she loved that calf. And she started to be patient and kind to other calfs - she had come so far.
     Poor 111 retained her placenta and got an infection and had to be treated by the vet, but she was a trooper and pulled through and was NEVER short or impatient with Bruiser (or me) - even when she didn't feel her best.
     But nature is not always kind and Bruiser got an injury that developed into a deep wound, and even though he had had a tetanus shot, we lost him to tetanus. Poor 111 has been in semi-mourning since. All the other cows have calves, but not her. Once in awhile a calf will call it's momma and she will look up - hopeful it's Bruiser. She just has not been quite the same, but still a sweetheart....
     The beef business is, unfortunate, not one that keeps males - when they are grown they are going to take a trip and not return home. So when 111 got bred last year I hoped, and have hoped EVERY DAY since, that she would have a heifer calf - a girl she could raise and love and keep here on the farm with her.
     And 111 was treated kindly by fate again (I feel the first time was when I picked her - she would not have been treated as kindly or as patiently in most other places - who has time for a cow with Aspergers?) - today she gave birth to a beautiful girl calf. She is over the moon and so am I - 111 and her daughter (who's name is Denny after a neighboring farmer we love who's 75th birthday was the day before) are bonding right now in the upper field and will live their lives out together here on our farm.
     So nature takes, but nature gives and you should say a silent thanks to the universe for Miss 111 for this blessing that will so enrich her life - and MINE as I watch, yet again, a miracle occur in our lives.
A new calf and a new farm gal. 5.22.15
     Is there anything better than a new calf? Not to me. 190 had a beautiful bull calf and he's sturdy and healthy. We won't keep him as a bull as 190 is half milking devon - and for a bull I'd like a full beef devon, but he'll live a healthy and happy life with us for 3 years. His name is Pogo as he HOPPED around at first, not walking.
     My daughter Jenn is taking more and more interest in the farm and the cows are getting very used to her and are starting to trust her well - 190 even let her babysit the calf! And her 4 year old twin daughters like the cows - twin Izzy considers herself cow-girl apparent. So we seem to be starting a line of women cattle ranchers here in New Braintree!
Red and Teddy - a loving adoption last year - 5.11.15
I am always amazed at the intricate relationships the cattle have with their offspring - and each other! It came particularly to light when we adopted TEDDY.
Red (our lead cow and my favorite) unfortunately had a breach stillborn - the vet suggested we get a newborn calf and try to get Red to mother it - she would be much happier and much more fertile.
The only calf you can get on a mome
nts notice was a dairy bull calf - dairies don't need many BOYS. We were very fortunate to find Teddy - he had been born the night before and hadn't even eaten yet. It took me 4 days but I got them to "take" each other. And now they are in love - Red considers Teddy hers and treats him with love and devotion - and Teddy just loves his mom.
Even cattle families come in all colors!